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Samsung 3 ReviewPrice: $230 List | $159.99 at Amazon
Pros: Fast web browsing
Cons: Keyboard feels flimsy, loud trackpad
Bottom line: A good choice if you’re not fussy about keyboard feel and can find it on sale
The Samsung 3 is a high performing Chromebook with 4GB of RAM. It will satisfy anyone looking for a Chromebook with fast web browsing. However, it fell slightly behind the other 4GB models we tested due to an inferior keyboard and trackpad. While it wouldn't be one of our top recommendations, if you're not particularly fussy about keyboard feel and find it on sale it would be a great value.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Samsung 3's 4GB of RAM earned it a high score of 8 out of 10 in out performance testing. This was just behind the top score of 9 and far better than the 2GB models, all of which scored a 3. We were able to stream high definition music videos and still open up enough other tabs to get some work done, all without inducing any lag. If we we were streaming and got the tab count into the double digits we did notice some small delays when using Google Sheets, but this represented the most taxing environment a normal user was likely to create. Most of the time we went on blissfully browsing with no lag, feeling like we were using a traditional laptop. The Samsung 3 has 16GB of internal storage and a micro SD card slot that allows you to expand beyond the 16GB. We easily made it through a full workday using the Samsung 3 on a single charge, and it has a reported battery life of 11 hours. If you end up opting for the Samsung 3 you needn't worry about performance.
The Samsung 3's interface is what kept it from being one of our top overall performers. It earned a 6 out of 10, making it one of the lower scorers in a metric that saw scores ranging from 5 to 9. It had our least favorite keyboard, largely due to its keys feeling flimsy and loose. This caused us to type with much more caution than normal, as the keys just didn't seem durable. This feeling definitely got annoying during extended typing sessions. We also weren't impressed with its trackpad. It had a reasonably nice glide to it, but the click was so loud that our coworkers ended up putting on their headphones when we were using it.
Like most models, the Samsung 3 scored a 6 in our screen quality testing. This was the average score, as every model scored a 6 except for a couple of outliers, which scored a 5 and a 9. Its 11.6 inch screen may feel small if you're used to a more traditional 14 inch laptop, but as browsing and video watching on tablets and smartphones becomes more common 11.6 inches is starting to feel downright big. The 1366 x 768 resolution is fairly standard amongst Chromebooks and is slightly better than 720p. While this is technically high definition, those that value a clear picture may want to opt for something with full high definition 1080p, like the Acer 14.
The Samsung 3 picked up an average score of 7 out of 10 in our portability testing, which yielded scores from 5 to 10. At 2.5 pounds it feels light and definitely won't weigh down your carry on bag. The 11.6 inch size is significantly smaller than traditional laptops, which tend to start at 14 inches and go up to 17 inches. Therefore it feels very packable and doesn't require a bag with a dedicated laptop sleeve (though a laptop sleeve certainly makes it feel better protected).
The Samsung 3 lists for $230. This is towards the lower end of the models we tested that have 4GB of RAM. However, the ASUS C201 offers a much better keyboard for a list price that is $30 less. Therefore we don't feel that the Samsung is a particularly good value unless you can find it on sale.
The Samsung 3 is a generally well designed Chromebook that has the performance benefits of 4GB of RAM. However, all of the other 4GB models we tested have a hook, whether it be great value, a nice screen, or tablet functionality. The Samsung 3 does not have a hook, so most people will likely be more drawn to one of the other 4GB models.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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